LSU's Spears shouldn't have long wait on draft day
By WILLIAM WEATHERS
Before going to his sister's house to share in the biggest day of his life, LSU defensive end Marcus Spears plans to get lost for a couple of hours Saturday morning, fishing on Bayou Pigeon in Iberville Parish.
"I'm going to look for some bass and sac-a-lait," Spears said. "I'm going to relax and get away from everything. Then I'll come back into the jungle."
For Spears, a Southern Lab graduate, that translates into coping with the anticipated frenzy that will accompany Saturday's NFL draft that begins at 11 a.m.
The wait shouldn't be too agonizingly long for the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Spears, a consensus All-America defensive end as a senior and team captain, projected to go in the first round between the 12th pick by San Diego and 22nd by Baltimore.
"I don't see myself getting past No. 20,'' Spears said of the selection currently held by Dallas. "The Cowboys have two picks in the first round and I've talked with them a lot. I've also talked a lot with San Diego and Minnesota."
Spears is one of four players from LSU's 9-3 team that played in the Capital One Bowl with the possibility of being drafted on the first day of the NFL's two-day event. The first three rounds are Saturday followed by the remaining four rounds Sunday.
Cornerback Corey Webster of St. James is a projected second-round selection, while center Ben Wilkerson and cornerback Travis Daniels have first-day draft potential, but some projections have them headed for the fourth round.
"It's a good year, a solid year," Baton Rouge-based NFL scout Chris Landry said of LSU's draft crop. "They're going to have a first- rounder, a second-rounder and maybe a third-rounder. They're going to have a second-day guy and others that will go to camp. It's been better, but it's solid representation."
Other Tigers holding onto draft hopes are linebacker Lionel Turner of Walker and quarterback/running back Marcus Randall, a graduate of Glen Oaks.
Landry, a consultant for a number of NFL teams, said Turner could be a late-round choice, while Randall will wind up as a free agent.
The top selections among prospects from Louisiana schools, or those with ties to the state, include Louisiana Tech running back Ryan Moats, Southern Illinois running back Brandon Jacobs of Assumption High-Napoleonville and West Virginia wide receiver Chris Henry of Belle Chasse -- all of whom are third-round projections.
Denham Springs native and Louisville standout Stefan LeFors, a graduate of Christian Life, is the 10th-rated quarterback and is projected as a fifth-to-sixth round selection, while Broadmoor High graduate Derrick Johnese of Northwestern State, who opted for early entry into the draft, could be a late-round selection or free agent pick-up.
"He's a good leader, accurate and can make the throw with a feathery touch," Landry said about LeFors. "He could be a career backup in the league. With the right system, one that runs a West Coast style, he could fit into that."
Spears said after considering early entry for the draft last year, his choice to return for his senior season was the catalyst for his current draft position. An excellent finish to his senior year, along with a solid Pro Day showing, vaulted him comfortably into the first round.
"It didn't hurt me, it actually helped me," Spears said of returning to school where he is 14 hours shy of graduating. "A lot of people thought I was going to be a high-round pick last year and that wasn't the case. I came back for my senior year and moved up 13 to 14 slots and that helped out a lot."
Spears, who started in 38 of 48 games, concluded his career with 152 tackles, 19 sacks, 34‰ stops behind the line of scrimmage and four interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, including one against Oklahoma in the 2004 BCS national championship game.
He earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors with 49 tackles, 32 solo, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
"I just did things better technique-wise over my junior year and I made all the athletic plays," Spears said. "Scouts will try and nit-pick and find something to work on and you'll make some money if you get better at them."